Northeast Times

Good food, good life

A new Medi­ter­ranean res­taur­ant and smooth­ie bar in Fishtown of­fers dishes ran­ging from falafel to smooth­ies.

  • Owner Amr Ghazi shows off some of the dishes offered on the menu. CAROLAN DIFIORE STAR PHOTO

  • Customers are urged not to be deceived by the “Ice Cream” sign above the recently opened Falafel Hummus at 402 E. Girard Ave. in Fishtown. CAROLAN DIFIORE STAR PHOTO

  • Ghazi has more than a decade of experience working as a cook in various restaurants, most recently the former Green Olive Market in Northern Liberties. CAROLAN DIFIORE STAR PHOTO

The “ice cream” sign hanging above 402 E. Gir­ard Ave. may de­ceive some at first. It over­shad­ows a smal­ler sign un­der­neath it, which marks Fishtown’s new­est Medi­ter­ranean and ve­get­ari­an res­taur­ant.

Those who come in­side Falafel Hum­mus will find an ar­ray of sights and smells. A sign hangs in the wall that reads, “Good Food, Good Life.” An­oth­er lists the “Re­cipe for Hap­pi­ness,” whose in­gredi­ents in­clude one bag of smiles, two pounds of pos­it­iv­ity and two spoon­fuls of sim­pli­city.

Res­taur­ant own­er Amr Ghazi, known to many as Amir, em­bod­ies these three in­gredi­ents. Al­most al­ways smil­ing, he is op­tim­ist­ic about what the place has in store, des­pite open­ing just over two weeks ago and hav­ing little to no ad­vert­ising to pro­mote the new busi­ness.

The res­taur­ant’s small and simple lay­out is de­signed in a way that wel­comes the cus­tom­ers in and en­cour­ages them to sample a new and unique cuisine.

“I am very lucky,” Ghazi said. “The people in the neigh­bor­hood have been so in­cred­ibly wel­com­ing and ac­cept­ing.”

Neigh­bor and cus­tom­er Dav­id Temino, a long­time Fishtown res­id­ent, said he’s al­ways look­ing to try new foods.

“I’ve nev­er tried Medi­ter­ranean food,” Temino said. “This is all new to me. I think this place will take off, per­son­ally. Be­lieve me, I know my food.”

Al­though falafel and hum­mus washed down with a ba­nana smooth­ie may not seem like the most con­ven­tion­al of food com­bin­a­tions, Ghazi said he hopes the ve­get­ari­an cuisine, along with the op­tions to or­der vari­ous fresh fruit smooth­ies and re­cov­ery shakes, will at­tract cus­tom­ers who are try­ing to live a more health-con­scious life­style.

“Every­one’s try­ing to be healthy,” he said. “It’s good for you and the young people love it.”

This res­taur­ant is not only for health nuts, however. Cus­tom­ers can choose from a vari­ety of op­tions, such as gyros, wraps and even homemade pizza. Ghazi pre­pares his food daily. Any­thing served a day later, he said, does not taste as fresh. The falafel is baked, not fried, and the smooth­ies are made from fresh fruit and yogurt.

Cus­tom­ers can call in their or­der for take out or de­liv­ery, or eat their meal in­side at the small wooden tables or on a stool at a gran­ite coun­ter­top.

Open­ing his own busi­ness has been Ghazi’s long­time dream. Since mov­ing to the United States in 1987 from Egypt, where many of his dishes ori­gin­ated, Ghazi worked his way up from a simple cook at a res­taur­ant in Vir­gin­ia to the as­sist­ant man­ager.

“It’s a dream of every­one to be able to come over to Amer­ica and own their own busi­ness,” Ghazi said.

Since mov­ing to the area in the ‘90s, Ghazi worked in con­struc­tion and as a cook in the former Green Olive Mar­ket in North­ern Liber­ties.

It was his large friend base in Fishtown that ini­tially lured Ghazi to open shop in the neigh­bor­hood. After liv­ing on 2nd Street since Novem­ber, he said he’s grown to love the young loc­als.

Neigh­bor­hood res­id­ents are also em­bra­cing the unique cuisine Falafel Hum­mus has to of­fer.

“We cer­tainly don’t need an­oth­er pizza place or ham­burger joint,” Temino said.

Ghazi said: “People are com­ing in and telling me they’re so glad I’m here, and that fi­nally someone is do­ing something dif­fer­ent.”

Tyler Hay­duk from Fishtown has been to Falafel Hum­mus three times since it opened. He’s tried the gyro, falafel and a couple smooth­ies, he said.

“The first time I saw it opened I ac­tu­ally thought it was an ice cream store,” Hay­duk said. Al­though the er­ro­neous sign is still hung out­side his new res­taur­ant, Ghazi said he will take it down soon to avoid con­fu­sion.

“The food’s great and af­ford­able,” Hay­duk said. “It’s a really friendly en­vir­on­ment. I would def­in­itely re­com­mend it.”

You can reach at cdifiore@bsmphilly.com.

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